NY Times Quote

I’m thankful to Paul Sullivan of the NY Times for taking interest in my work and interviewing me for his December 29th Wealth Matters column, “Keeping the Family Tree Alive.”

I’ve been fortunate in my career to have worked with a wide range of interesting families from very poor and even homeless, to extremely wealthy. One of my favorite questions for wealthy families struggling with a particular challenge is, “How would this be different if you were poor?” That question goes to the heart of big decisions by removing money from the equation for a moment, leaving only family relationships and fundamental life values to be considered.

Money is powerful and has the potential for both positive and negative effects on those who have it. I work with families that have accumulated significant wealth and who want the money/wealth to serve the family in healthy and productive ways.

In my experience, those families who put family first in their thinking tend to achieve long-term harmony and productive, motivated and satisfied family members.

Posted in Family Business Consulting, Family Wealth Consulting, Wealth Psychology Consulting | Tagged , , | Posted on by Jeff Savlov

Happy Holidays – Make an Impact!

Friends and Colleagues –

Happy Holidays and Wishing You a Great New Year!!!

A donation has been made to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (T.A.S.K.) in lieu of cards or gifts to our friends and colleagues. I’m coming up on my 10th year of volunteering at T.A.S.K. and it continues to be inspiring and energizing.

The Patrons struggle to get by in a city bereft of opportunity and overwhelmed by violence, drugs, and desperation. Consistently, I am impressed by the strong ties that bind the Patrons together. Over these 10 years they have slowly let me into their world and embraced me as a member of their community. I am all the better for it.

Wishing you an inspired and energized 2018 – make an impact!

Best –


Posted in Family Business Consulting, Family Wealth Consulting, Wealth Psychology Consulting | Tagged | Posted on by Jeff Savlov

Money Ain’t Everything

Research shows higher childhood socioeconomic status (SES) tends to be associated with positive physical health later in life. There is even some research that many believe demonstrates that high SES (i.e., significant wealth and high social class) can take the place of warm parent-child bonds.  If correct, this means that even without close, healthy parent-child relationships, a high SES will lead to positive health later in life.

However, research done last year by Matthew A. Andersson at Baylor University, shows that poor-quality parent-child relationships during childhood can negate the positive effects of high SES in terms of health over the lifespan.

Basically, “money ain’t everything” –  or stated another way, high-quality parent-child bonds are extremely important, and this supports the work I’ve been doing with parents in multigenerational wealthy families.

Across the board my clients who are parents want to ensure that the advantages of wealth do not stifle their children and lead to a lack of motivation and selfishness. This is a stereotype of family wealth, for sure, and one that exists too often. Starting early with these parents – ideally beginning to think through the issues, challenges and opportunities before they have children – is important.  Focusing on the quality of parent-child relationships is the best leverage against the potential negative effects of wealth.  Families can harness both the potential of high SES AND healthy relationships; the result is close families and mature, selfless stewards.

Last week I presented a workshop on “Raising Family Business Children” for NYCFEC (New York City Family Enterprise Center). Attendees had kids ranging in age from a year or two up through early 20’s and were active and enlightened participants, though I was particularly encouraged by the participation of parents mid-pregnancy and who were still planning for their first child in the future.

A solid emotional/relational foundation is the most powerful first step in raising family business children, stewards of generational wealth, and, honestly, everyone else.

Posted in Family Business Consulting, Family Wealth Consulting, Wealth Psychology Consulting | Tagged , , , , | Posted on by Jeff Savlov

Start Younger Than You Think

Many years ago (and unfortunately still to some degree today) heirs had to wait for someone to die before finding out what they would inherit, with whom they would own a business or other assets, and what role they would be expected to play.  This often happened with little teaching and development to lay a healthy foundation for this intense experience and how to manage the technical, emotional and relational effects. Also, often lacking are conversations with the inheritor(s) to find out what their interests are and what they would like their lives to be like in the context of this transfer of wealth to them and even aside from it. In addition, loving conversations about what this gift means to the grantor(s) have been absent for too long.

This tends to be overwhelming to the inheritor.

Currently, there are many families who put real effort into teaching and developing the rising generation; often they are included in their 20’s and even teen years in ways appropriate to their maturity level.

The next leap is to go younger still. For example, in 1980 researchers DeCasper and Fifer gathered women in the final trimester of pregnancy. The mothers read “The Cat in the Hat” to their bellies. Shortly after birth babies preferred a recording of mother reading “The Cat in the Hat” to the actual mother reading another Dr. Seuss book. The thinking is that babies are already developing complex attachments and are internalizing experiences while still in the womb! It was not simply the mother’s voice they enjoyed, but her voice reading “The Cat in the Hat” as opposed to a different Dr. Seuss book (babies can discern the difference between the two Seuss books!)

What does this have to do with potential future involvement in a family business or inheriting an operating business or other forms of wealth? So much of the potential to develop future stewards of wealth lies in the earliest years. If a fetus in utero can have a favorite book, there are certainly many opportunities to connect with infants and toddlers in a loving and intentional manner that also prepares them for future stewardship and the challenges that inheriting can bring into their lives. See my April 2015 post for more specifics.

And the Family Business world is more receptive than ever to my ideas in this realm.

Last month I was invited to go to Cartagena, Columbia to speak to 400 family business members about the opportunities for parents in multigenerational business/wealth contexts before they even have children and during the first five years of life. Follow this link to check out the Summit and scroll down to Day One – afternoon. Google can translate if your Spanish is not up to speed 🙂

On November 17th from 8:30-10:30 am, I’ll be leading an early morning session for NYCFEC (The New York Family Enterprise Center). It is entitled Raising Family Business Children, and is intended for NYC-area couples, grandparents, husbands, wives or anyone else who has responsibility for (or may be eventually raising) children in a business-owning family. Small family businesses (<$10 million revenues) attend for FREE! Contact me if you or someone you know is interested in attending and I will get a discounted fee and additional family members will be free.

Many of the skills families can develop to raise enlightened children who are ready for the responsibilities and challenges of family business and financial success are helpful for poor families and middle-class families too. However, financial success in a family has the tendency to make life easier when it is the very challenges which wealth can lessen which are the building blocks of character, motivation and selflessness.

Posted in Family Business Consulting, Family Wealth Consulting, Wealth Psychology Consulting | Tagged , , , , , , | Posted on by Jeff Savlov

Children, Wealth, & Peers

My colleague Barbara Spector, Editor-In-Chief at Family Business Magazine, recently interviewed me about children from financially successful families and situations they face with their peers around the family business and, in particular, money. Click here to read the article, “Help Your Kids Parry Classmates’ Comments About Wealth.”

I’ve been interested for some time in wealth and identity and how “wealthism” –  bias against the wealthy – can be internalized by family members in a family wealth context giving them a sense of embarrassment and shame. Many wealthy people choose to be highly secretive about their wealth and rarely or never reveal their true situation even to very close friends; this can exacerbate the sense of isolation.

(My friend and colleague Kristen Heaney and I facilitated a workshop on these ideas this past summer at the Purposeful Planning Institute’s Annual Rendezvous in Colorado and will do so again this Fall at the Family Firm Institute’s Global Conference in Chicago.)

As I discuss in the article, there are many ways for children to handle the assumptions, comments, entitlements and insensitivities of their peers directly, leaving them with a sense of confidence and pride. It is important for parents to prepare their children for these possibilities and to give them tools to manage them.

A family does not need to be ultra-wealthy for these situations to occur. They can arise between working-class and middle-class, or middle-class and upper-class children/families. Whenever there is a disparity of assets jealousy and envy can lead to uncomfortable interactions. However, the wealthier a family becomes, the more likely it is they will have assets far greater than those around them. This depends in part on where they live, making this more challenging for families who achieve significant wealth and want to live in more modest settings.

Please read the Family Business Magazine article, entitled, “Help Your Kids Parry Classmates’ Comments About Wealth,” and please share your reactions and ideas.

Posted in Family Business Consulting, Family Wealth Consulting, Wealth Psychology Consulting | Tagged , , , , , | Posted on by Jeff Savlov

NY City Family Enterprise Center (NYCFEC)

I’m excited to share a new family business educational program in the greater New York City area: New York City Family Enterprise Center (NYCFEC).

This fall, NYCFEC will open its doors with the 2017 Family Business Day on Friday, September 15th. This will be followed by five, half-day, in-depth NYCFEC Elective courses and I’ll be starting off at the “very beginning” by presenting:

Raising Family Business Children (0-14 years of age).

I’m a firm believer that it is never too early to develop your family with intention.

If you are part of a family enterprise in the greater NYC area, please consider attending. If you know of a family or someone integrally involved in a family enterprise – please pass this along. Better yet, contact me directly; NYCFEC has given me a discount code I can share with prospective members.

Who should attend?

  • Family members
  • Family shareholders
  • Family trustees or trust beneficiaries
  • Family board members
  • Family management

NYCFEC is a 501(c)3 non-profit membership organization governed by its family enterprise members along with a very experienced team who fully understands family enterprises.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I’m honored to be part of such a quality family business initiative.

Posted in Family Business Consulting, Family Wealth Consulting, Wealth Psychology Consulting | Tagged , , , , , , | Posted on by Jeff Savlov